Junior dos Santos will defend his UFC Heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez, the man he took it from last year, at UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 this Saturday, December 29, 2012, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
To help fans get hyped for the fight, Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com has two excellent career retrospectives on the two fighters. Here's a taste.
UFC 90 - TKO 1 Fabricio Werdum
The lasting image of Junior dos Santos' first week in the UFC (well, in addition to the highlight reel knockout) may have been the clip from UFC President Dana White's video blog where he showed off the Brazilian newcomer hitting pads before his debut bout against former PRIDE star and then-UFC contender Fabricio Werdum. White couldn't be more impressed with "Cigano," and then dos Santos delivered in the Octagon with a blistering right uppercut that put his countryman down on the canvas face first. The fight took only 80 seconds, and a star was born.
UFC 131 - W3 Shane Carwin
After the Nelson bout, dos Santos was introduced to an entirely new audience as a coach on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, and new fans immediately gravitated to him thanks to his affable personality and ever present smile. The prize at the end of the six weeks of taping was going to be a UFC 131 bout with Brock Lesnar, but another bout with diverticulitis took Lesnar out of the bout. In stepped heavy-handed former interim champ Shane Carwin, but what was expected to be an explosive encounter that wouldn't get out of the first round instead turned into a bloody and one-sided decision win for dos Santos, who left no doubt as to who the number one contender in the heavyweight division was.
UFC on FOX 1 - KO1 Cain Velasquez
Placed in one of the most important events in UFC history, the organization's debut on the FOX network, the pressure was on for dos Santos and his opponent, Cain Velasquez, to deliver an epic and explosive performance fitting of a world heavyweight championship fight. And it certainly was explosive, though dos Santos made sure it wasn't epic thanks to the right hand that sent Velasquez crashing to the mat, ending the bout in just 64 seconds. A new champion was born that night in Southern California, and his name was Junior dos Santos.
From Cain Velasquez: Seven Defining Moments:
UFC 110 - KO1 Minotauro Nogueira
Like Junior dos Santos' respect for Mirko Cro Cop leading into their bout, Velasquez felt the same way about Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Yeah, he may not have been the same guy who won the PRIDE heavyweight title, but he was still Minotauro and still dangerous. So Velasquez did what you do the moment you see an opening against a dangerous opponent - you get him out of there. In the Acer Arena that afternoon in Sydney, you could hear the left hook that sent Nogueira down and out. That's power.
UFC 121 - TKO1 Brock Lesnar
2010's Velasquez vs. Lesnar bout had all the drama and all the question marks you want from a big time heavyweight championship bout, and while Lesnar provided the drama with an all-out assault on his challenger at the opening bell, Velasquez delivered the answers to all questions about being too small to beat a giant like Lesnar, as he knocked the big man out in the seconds round to become the UFC heavyweight champion of the world.
UFC 146 - TKO1 Antonio Silva
After and fighter suffers his first loss, you wonder how he will respond in the next fight. In the case of Velasquez, it only took three minutes and 36 seconds to get that answer, as he looked more focused, determined, and intense than ever before in blasting out Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the first round. If there was any doubt about his ability to bounce back and soar right back up to the top of the heavyweight division, it was gone after this night in Vegas.
Looking back at the already remarkable careers of these two young champions really clarifies how much is at stake on Saturday. If JDS wins, Cain will have lost twice to the champ and he'll effectively be in limbo as long as dos Santos remains the champ. If Cain wins, dos Santos will have suffered the first loss of his UFC career and a rubber match will loom on the horizon.